So far, it’s been a particularly stressful year in the world at large and the summer is heating up. There’s more than a little stress going around, and unfortunately, some of the stress appears to be creating rifts between us. And the whole hot mess gets brought to the workplace every day because, people being people, we can’t always neatly separate from our worries and our passions.
The police shooting-related deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have sparked grief, anger and charges of racial bias and injustice. Nationwide protests have followed and show few signs of resolving soon. As police in Dallas protected the first amendment rights of protesters, a sniper took aim and claimed the largest loss of police life in a single event since 9-11. This terrible and sad event has caused tremendous shock and grief in the nation as a whole and in the law enforcement community in particular.
It’s almost too much to process. The nation is still reeling from the 50 lives gunned down in Orlandos’s Pulse nightclub, an event that held particular pain for the LGBT community.
And at a time when we need leaders to bring us together, we are in the midst of a highly contentious election which is further exacerbating our fears and our differences.
A message of inspiration and unity
That’s why the “Love Has No Labels” viral video that was issued just before Independence Day is a breath of fresh air. Check it out to see why it has struck such a chord. John Cena makes a pitch for tolerance, unity and coming together in “We are America.”
There’s an accompanying website that focuses on combating prejudice and bias. It offers people’s stories about bias they’ve experienced and a bias quiz. It also offers tips and suggestions for how we can all confront bias in different settings. Between this and the videos, it might be a good topic for a brown bag lunch.
Here are just a few of the ideas for combating bias that we particularly liked:
Don’t laugh. Meet a bigoted “joke” with silence, and maybe a raised eyebrow. Use body language to communicate your distaste for bigoted “humor.”
Interrupt the laughter.
“Why does everyone think that’s funny?” Tell your co-workers why the “joke” offends you, that it feels demeaning and prejudicial. And don’t hesitate to interrupt a “joke” with as many additional “no” messages as needed.
Talk about differences. When we have friendships across group lines, it’s natural to focus on what we have in common, rather than our differences. Yet our differences matter. Strive to open up the conversation: “We’ve been friends for years, and I value our friendship very much. One thing we’ve never really talked about is my experiences with racism. I’d like to do that now.”
Focus on behavior, not beliefs. If you feel the need to ask questions about a friend’s behavior that’s changed, center the question on the behavior rather than assumptions.
Here’s another remarkable video from their series that was launched around Valentine’s Day.
Meet the cast: